You know that handheld media-friendly new tablet gizmo from Apple? Yeah, that one. Turns out that companies are looking at it and wondering how to use it in business--and one, Bluebox, has turned it into an in-flight entertainment box.
If you think about it, this is an ideal solution for in-flight entertainment. iPads are small, portable, give the user control over when and what they do for entertainment, and since they can be wirelessly-served data through specialized apps, it's easy for the operator to serve out films, TV shows, and what-not. Their battery life is good for all but the longest flights, and re-charging them is easy. Best of all, if you hand out iPads to customers, you don't need to build in-flight amusement gear into your seat-backs--which obviates all the expense, complication, tricky hardware and software maintenance and sheer weight (think of fuel-savings) associated with dedicated systems.
Hence Bluebox Avionic's interest in the devices. In this case, the company is looking to use the iPads to supplement hard-wired in-flight systems, and has built dedicated apps for the iPads that complement the 200,000 or so available through Apple--except that the Bluebox app connects to the AV system and serves up movies, 3-D games and so on, and even enables in-flight gambling.
Whether or not you'll experience that Mission Impossible "I think sir may prefer the cinema of the Orient..." moment through these in-flight iPads isn't clear... but the scheme is at least a clever use of commercial-off-the-shelf systems in a new way. The only issue that participating airlines are likely to face is successfully retrieving all of the iPads, with their hot-topic uber-cool factor, from the tight grasp of users at the end of the journey.